Abby Sweet / Lantern photographer
Former Ohio State men’s soccer goalkeeper Matt Lampson traded in his scarlet and gray jersey for the black and gold of Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew, and came back to campus to show off his new colors last week.
Lampson makes his living as a professional at Crew Stadium, but the former Buckeyes keeper made a successful, albeit rain-shortened return to OSU’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium Tuesday for the Connor Senn Memorial Match between the Buckeyes and Crew.
With the Crew leading, 4-0, the game was halted in the 31st minute by referees after a storm swept over the stadium. Crew coach Robert Warzycha said it was hard to rate the player’s performance after watching him for just more than half an hour.
Still, Lampson got the start in goal and said he was eager to make the most of it.
“It felt great playing against the old guys,” Lampson said. “I don’t want to say I hope we could put more in because I don’t want to say I was pouring it on, but I wish we could have finished out the game at the very least, or at least the half.”
Warzycha, who has guided Columbus to a 2-4-2 record in 2012, said the game was a special moment for Lampson.
“He wanted so bad to be between the posts and he got the chance today,” Warzycha said. “That’s a special moment for him. It’s his former team, so you want to do the best you can.”
Perhaps feeling outmatched by their professional opponents, Lampson said his former OSU teammates told him they planned to take shots any time they found open space, regardless of the location on the field.
The Crew’s defensive line proved too strong for the Buckeyes, as OSU did not register an on-target shot in the match.
Lampson said he knew he had to be ready, though.
“I thought my team (the Crew) played very well today from the get-go,” Lampson said. “I mean, what can you do? It’s a professional team.”
Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers signed Lampson to his first professional contract on Dec. 14. While watching Lampson make his OSU return, McCullers said he could only imagine what must have been going through the backup goalkeeper’s mind.
“He’s played so many games here. Now, he’s in the black and gold and kind of achieved his dream of being a professional player and being a part of the Crew program,” McCullers said. “And now to come back, and to be able to give back by participating in this match that he’s so familiar with and been a part of. It’s got to be a great feeling for him.”
Lampson’s days as a decorated student-athlete are behind him, as are his 24 career OSU shutouts and the 0.86 goals-against average he posted in 56 appearances for the Buckeyes.
For a moment, it seemed Lampson’s allegiances might still lie with the Buckeyes as he congratulated his former teammates on a well-played game afterward as rain pelted the metal bleachers of his former playing field.
“I thought the Buckeyes played hard,” he said.
But Lampson finds himself fighting for playing time with the Crew, having been an unused substitute in each of the team’s first eight games in the 2012 season.
OSU coach John Bluem said he hopes the appearance against the Buckeyes was a sign of things to come for Lampson.
“To see this coming true for Matt Lampson, to see a local – you know, (he) grew up here in Columbus, went to Ohio State – and to now play for the Crew. It’s a great story,” Bluem said. “We’re very happy to see him get a chance to play (Tuesday).
“I hope he gets the chance to play more for Columbus this year.”